tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 25, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
please stay safe. you can follow me on facebook and twitter. we actually read them. our coverage continues right now. thanks for watching. happening now democrats demand as president trump said it woumder me at all. while the president claims he was totally exonerated does the report tell a different story? president trump accuse unnamed people of treasonist things. he says the special counsel acted honorably. >> other matters, what did he find he farmed out to different. it keeps the attorney general
from releasing the full mueller report. president trump now concedes they acted honorably and said it wouldn't bother him if the report was made public. the mueller report does not exonerate him ton matter of obstruction. bill barr notes the special counsel did not draw a conclusion one way or the other. he has made the determination there is not enough to establish obstruction of justice. that's the reason they insist
the full mueller report be released. also in serious legal jeopardy. the attorney faces separate counts of trying to extort millions from nike. >> israel retaliates by hitting hamas targets sparking urgent cease fire efforts. house speaker of the intelligence and judiciary committees and correspondents will have coverage of today's top stories. let's begin with jim. the president seems triumphant and cautious at the same time. >> he is taking a victory lap after mueller concluded there was no collusion between the trump campaign and the russian government. the white house is on the warpath tonight with the president accusing people of
doing very evil things and other top white house officials accusing democrats of lying to the public. savoring what may be his bigst political victory president trump welcomes mueller's findings of no collusion with the kremlin. he took some swipes at his critics. >> i wish i could have got geen lot sooner, a lot quicker. there are a lot of people that have done some very very evil things, very bad things, treasonist things against our country. we have gone through a period of really bad things happening. those people will be looked at. >> the president sowned open to releasing the mueller report to the public saying that is up to attorney general william barr. >> it wouldn't bother me at all. >> the president appeared to
change his tune . >> it is a departure from the cries of of a witch hunt, the talking paint they turned into a coffee mug. it also does not exonerate him. the white house is going one step further blaming the media for the mueller probe. >> democrats perpetuated that lie day in and day out and covered every single second of negative attention that they thought would be the one moment that would bring this president
down. >> it was president trump who fired fbi director james comey leading to the appointment of special counsel. >> when i decided to do it i said to myself, i said you flow, this. >> in a series of other questionable instances if what lead the president to ask for general flynn's resignation. >> to meeting with a russian attorney offering dirt on hillary clinton. >> i think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting. >> which is why democrats want to see the full mueller report.
>> it because false narrative. >> one tling he is not willing to ve veal answers to special counsel. >> i think it would be very inappropriate. >> and he told reporters he hasn't thought about whether to issue when the mueller probe was on the way. now that the mule ir probe is wrapped up it seems to be once again a live option. it should be noted that this is hardly the end. it is into a whole array of allegations that also continues. i should point out in the last
couple of minutes i heard from a white house official that the president's team has not yet viewed the entire mueller report. let's bring there sarah murray. >> in the past decmocrats have spoken very highliment they ay. it is making it very clear they are not willing to settle for b barr's summary. setting up a showdown over what special counsel found.
>> barr writes he setsous evidence on both sides of the question. in one of the few instances he sites this critical line. while the report tuz in the condition collude the president committed a crime it does not exonerate him. they made their own determination clearing the president of criminal wrong doing without mueller's involvement. barr writing that rosenstein and i concluded that it is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. there is no indication if mueller asked barr or intended to leave the question of where the president obstructed justice up to congress. president trump's personal attorney took issue with mueller's careful language which stepped short of fully clearing the president.
>> they should stop there. this language, a lot of prosecutors said that is very unusual and very unethical. >> barr quotes directly from a portion of a sentence in mueller's report. the investigation did not establish that members con spierd or coordinated in the election interference activities. >> i'm not going to accept mr. barr's summary. let's see that report. >> the head of the house judiciary committee saying he plans to call barr to testify before the committee. >> it raised more questions than the answer given the fact that in his own words does not
exonerate the president. we cannot simply rely on what must be a hasty determination. >> ramp up calls and the underlying evidence a justice department official tells cnn while doj started the process of derps what can be made public there's no firm time line for the release. remember the company fighting the subpoena? they said they will not hear that appeal. the case continues. do democrats run the risk of
potentially overreaching? >> i think there's no doubt about that. there's a degree of uncertainty is the next stage of this conversation t not just democrats calling for the fuel mueller report. they blooe it will further indicate the president. democrats are looking for information that robert mueller may have found that could enhance their existing investigations into the president an his administrations or perhaps lead to new inquiries that they could look into. republicans today were telling their democratic colleagues to be cautious here. there was a real risk they could overextend themselves and push too far and american people would reject that move.
some believe there are other investigations that need to take place. graham said he believes barr should start a new special counsel to look into the roots of the russia investigation. take a listen. >> when it comes to the clinton campaign it has been swept under the rug except by a few republican in the house. those days are over. going forward hopefully in a biparking lb bipartisan fashion we'll begin to unpack the other side of the story. of. >> senator graham hoping they call looking into the loots of a russian investigation democrats are saying that there are still a lot to look into as it relates to the president and his ties to russia and perhaps obstruction of justice. any thought that perhaps this
end to the mueller report would end the partisan divisions here on capitol hill seems to be just a fantasy. >> it will continue. joining us now is serk from california. he is member of the judiciary committees. thanks for joining us. i want to start by playing a little of what you have told me. >> we have good that they were eager to work and working with the russians while they were helping them. in the court of law that's enough. >> as you know according to special counsel robert mueller and the investigation did not establish that member of the trump campaign conspired or koor din flated with russian government.
are you ready to accept that conclusion from robert mueller? >> yes. >> it is to understand if they conduct is conduct that we want there a president. so that's just a long way of saying show us the mueller report not the barr opinion. the barr opinion is four pages long and chronicles a nearly two page investigation that had 500 search warrants and only used 84 words from bob mueller. we want to see every word.
>> are you suggests while there might not be enough evidence to establish a crime or others involving collusion there might be enough evidence to suggest your activity in the house of representatives beginning with impeachment? >> i don't want to go there. we have to make sure they have not worked there a way that could jeopardize -- >> let me interrupt far second. don't you think mueller and his team of lawyers and fbi agents if they had that kind of evidence they would have presented it, they would have gone after those individuals? >> certainly. we want to see it and know if they have that kind of evidence. may that may not reach the highest standard in law but it's still everyday we would want to
see. we know there was intent to receive the help from russians. >> the trump campaign has included your flame name on a individuals. you replied by saying this. the only person caught lying is donald trump and if he thinks i have made a false statement he can sue me and i'll beat him in court. what kpangtpgtly did you mean b that? >> he said he had no business dealings. we learned there michael cohen and others those went all the way through the primary. if he believes they aren't being
truthful then sue us. i believe he would not win this case just as he lost most of the cases he brought to court. >> democrats accused to rushing to judgment. cnn said he told the attorney general some three weeks ago he wouldn't draw a conclusion on that specific obstruction issue. if the evidence didn't convince robert mueller that a crime had been committed is it wishful thinking for democrats to prove obstruction of justice? >> our standard is different than proof beyond all reasonable doubt. you know the president should be taking a victory lap that the best day of his president is that he was not charged with a
crime. what concerns me is to act in a way that a political appointee the president could not. so the special counsel was supposed to make decisions that someone that does not have a conflict of interest could not. i want to know why they could give it to the attorney general. >> do you think mueller present to leave it to the attorney general or was he simply leaving it to you to decide? >> if he meant to lever ave it s we should see it. if the president is so confident he has been exonerated he should release immediately the full report. >> senator issued this warning today. i'll play you the clip. >> pursue what you think is important to the public but if you keep going after mueller spoke people are going to think you're just out to get him, that there is no right answer other
than donald trump must be reproved from officer and you'll probably suffer the same fate we did as having gone too far. >> so if you pursue this do you tli think a lot of americans are, do you risk a backlash? >> i respect what bob mueller did. i think congress and the american people should see it. i'll point out that i reached out to him over two years ago when i wanted to have an independent kpligs independent commission and have them look at this rather than have a politically charged washington do this. i only got two to sponsor my legislation. i always thought independent is the best way to secure and make sure we are not attacked by the russians again. >> do you think there is evidence to come up with that mueller couldn't come up with? i'm looking, he had 2,800
subpoenas, 500 witness interviews, 230 orders for kp n communication records. a bunch of intelligence. 19 lawyers, what makes you think that the staff, your staff either the judiciary committee could come up with he clearly didn't come up with? >> i can't answer that without seeing who he interviewed and what he learned. right now my position is we should know that for the sake of future elections for sake of knowing whether a president and hi family worked with the russians maybe not in a criminally chargeable way we should flow aknow all of that. if you have so innocent, so clear e so exonerated you should be so quick to put that report in the hands of congress and the american people. >> thanks for joining us. >> my pleasure.
>> let's bring in laura and cle chief national security correspondent. quoting robert mueller the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign in the election interference activities. what do you make and you went to law school. you understand this. you covered -- >> a while ago. >> they used the phrase did not establish. >> so it's a notable line that you cued in on here. i think it's important to remember mueller is looking at this not just as an investigator. he is looking at this as a prosecutor. these lines are kind of terms of art. i read that as did not have evidence to prosecute beyond all reasonable doubt.
he is saying i looked at the case and i couldn't get there. he assessed conspiracy charges. it's not ads if they didn't hav all of the everyday in front of them but they didn't see a case to be made. it speaks to why it is so important to seize the full report. as you can see from the brackets there we don't know what came before the first part of that. we have to see what did he say about all of everyday thidence saw? >> we want to see if full reports. he notified he would not be able to reach a conclusion. about whether the president obstructed justice. it is in the two days that he was reviewing this report. it is saying that the department of justice, the deputy attorney general and rosenstein all new this was coming.
they knew it would you say part of what public schooler was going to put in the report. certainly the issue they did not come to a conclusion on the obstruction issue. could have ban little bit surprising. i don't think they came into there over the weekend. bill barr and az team surprised at the outcome on this investigation. the hardest part is. >> one of the big unanswered questions from your perspective is still surround the mueller investigation. >> listen, to laura's point here is not james comey. in the famous press conference james comey said these are not
prosecutable crimes. they don't pleat thmeet that st. mueller did not take that next step. just established where he could not establish that crimes were committed both on the collusion issue. i think the bigger question on obstruction. will he testify why he did not get that that conclusion? will he testify why he made a judgment there was not evidence enough to support that while at the same time including in his report an attorney general language saying that this report does not exonerate the president on that issue. it is a remarkable language. this broader question, he made
the point was mueller here effectively leading this question up to congress as opposed to the prosecutor saying here is the evidence here. ultimately it is a political decision and that may well be where we are. of course the other question is there political capital and political support and momentum to continue after the mueller investigation? that's an open question. >> thanks very very much. i know you're continuing to work your sources. we have a lot more coming up on the mueller report. later the attorney who represented stormy daniels there a suit against the president has just been arrested and charged with fraud. with trying to extort millions of dollars from nike. these days we're all stressed. i hear you, sister. stress can affect our minds. i call this dish, "stress." stress can also affect our bodies. so, i'm partnering with cigna to remind you that your emotional
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our political and legal experts are leer to disdoes what will come next. the attorney general's letter states that the peshl counsel robert mueller lays out everyday on both sides. public schooler left conclusions up to the attorney general who is a trump political appointee. it declined to and didn't say they felt that the attorney general was the person who was in the appropriate position to render that judgment. public schooler might have meant for bill barr to make that
decision. he also might have feint for congress to have made that decision. i'm handing it over offered his sort of judgment on the matter at auchll. mueller has jurisdiction over the kwechquestion. so barr is pretty much offering his opinion. him putting that it was not an open question at the justice department to resolve. it generates lots of good headlines. barr may have thought it was independent and i think it is a plausible theory that mueller intended for congress. >> he said it is not only deputy attorney general but also --
without seeing an underlying report. there are lot it of really difficult questions. the attorney general it is one away. it is a two year investigation. mueller said they tl is strong on both sides. >> you know, some democrats are siting bill barr's memo as evidence the attorney general was bias. barr wrote in that memo to the deputy attorney general he wrote that mueller's obstruction
theory is fatally misconceived and would have consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the presidency. that is his strong argument that he is is sticking by it. >> sit a strong argument which is why one of the most interesting things we have heard today when he said that the special counsel's officer reached out to barr about three weeks ago and said he would not be able to come to a conclusion obviously flowing he would feeling the way he did about that very issue. if they went to him three weeks ago saying we were not able to come up with consensus we are going to leave it to you or to congress what have you at least flowing how he felt about this i think is an interesting part of this puzzle as well. it's in the like he has been mum about it. >> it is very significant don't you think? >> yeah. i think this is why ploes of the
report that we can see the better. if mueller doesn't make plain that he would like this to be in that report that this should be adjudicated or looked at by congress what's hard is then the leaving it to barr to make a decision to be honest is kind of -- you kind of know what that decision is going to be. you have now given barr three weeks to sort of be ready to make that case and say well, i looked at this. it's not like he got it and looked at itment . that's the only thing i worry about if it's not delineated. >> in that document he made the decision to write that phrase this does not exonerate the president. >> and made the decision to quote which was clearly purpose posful. >> and barr quoting saying while this report does not conclude that the president dplited a crime it also does not exonerate
him. we are hearing a very different line from the president who tweeted no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration. >> i think susan actually was speaking a few pliminutes ago. mueller made a decision not to move forward on the obstruction part of this. they view that alone as being an exoneration. a lot of people will disagree with that. that's their view for president trump. it allows them to go out there and say on the two main points that we have been attacked on for over two years collusion and later on obstruction the president is not facing any charges and he is essentially saying i can't move forward on these two fronts. the white house feels like it is an easy argument to makement. i think it's one they are not particularly interested in. as far as 2020 is concerned
that's all that matters from their per specific ifperspectiv. they are saying this whole thing was a lie from the beginning. >> all right. your our political director. forget about the legal arguments. >> okay. done. >> we have to admit the initial letter represented a huge political win for the president. >> i can't think of a better scenario for the president. yes, maybe you could have been cleaner on this issue of obstruction of justice. we are so inside and reading that every headline across america today said what donald trump has been saying for two years but with public schooler's stamp of approval. yesterday may have been the di politically. it starts giving more information or you see the one
side or the other that mueller presents and there are things there that may diminish this moment but he is already having this golden moment that no matter what comes out in the report they will come back to he said no collusion. he made no decision on obstruction. so they feel that they are in a very good place now to take this cloud over their head and remove it and really focus on the reelection campaign. >> and 100% agree politically. think of the alternative. think of the alternative that mueller comes out an says look, it wasn't donald trump but there was significant collusion here. bar lays it out or it comes out in the mueller report. i would say with some real political and sort of sense that was the right way to go. now all of that is now on
democrats that are political pli speaking that have to decide do we continue down this road and continue on the obstruction point and do we pursue that as others have or do we retrench and make it broader on immigration on, you know, the economy, on trade etcetera. >> seeing the full mueller report, bill barr's summary that vindicates him on every possible front or close to it. it is also entirely consistent with a report that is devastating to the president. it has mountainsover of incrik natding evidence. >> do democrats, could that go to too far and have a backlash? >> i think you're seeing that
already she said there were still serious questions. i would add one thing that could have avoided a lot of this conclusion is that he had been asked specifically by the special counsel's office to be the a by to, to decide bl or not obstruction was committed. that was not included. one has to wontder why. >> president couldn't have wished for a better letter. >> there is more news we have to follow includes michael avenatti is arrested and charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from nike. hello to the best part of the day.... with italian quality pizza. get two medium, one-topping pizzas for just $6.99 each.
show me my wifi password. hey now! [ ding ] you can even troubleshoot, learn new voice commands and much more. clean my daughter's room. [ ding ] oh, it won't do that. welp, someone should. just say "teach me more" into your voice remote and see how you can have an even better x1 experience. simple. easy. awesome. we have more breaking news. the attorney that once represented stormy daniels was arrested today. he faces two separate federal investigations. avenatti was arrested. what are you learning about this alleged extortion scheme? >> he was arrested many
manhattan by the fbi earlier today in this 11 page criminal complaint basically detailed how he tried to extort the company nike for millions of dollars. last week it says that he met with a number of nike's lawyers and he essentially said i have damaging information about your company. unless you pay me and my client millionsov millions of dollars i will try to do damage to your company. you better pay up. nike immediately went to law enforcement. discussions ended up being recorded audio and video. through the this complaint he is quote add saying some pretty thuggish things. i want to read one quote. he is quote saying i'll go take $10 billion off your clients market cap.
i'm not continuing to play games. you guys floi enough now to know you've got a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the pllid on th thing. they just held a press conference. >> the companies lawyers resisted paying to conduct an internal investigation. avenatti told the company it could skip faying for an internal investigation if it simply paid him $22.5 million. then avenatti said he would quote ride off into the sunset. he was not acting an as attorney. a suit and tie doesn't mask the fact that at its core this was an old fashioned shakedown. >> we are also told that the unnamed coconspirator in this criminal complaint, i should note that he was a cnn
contribute to. i should also mention he has not been charged. >> he is also facing charges in california. tell us about that. >> that's right. almost simultaneously there were clarnls brought on the west coast in california. fr patrol prosecutors accusing him of wire and bank fraud also that he defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to try to get millions in loans. i should stress that these are separate cases with separate setsover charges again in california and in new york. >> only a few months ago he was throwing out the idea of running for president of the united states. things have changed pretty questionly. thanks for joining us. >> coming up a very important poirnt in what we flow was conclusion. put's government did interfere
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are telling us skrp vladimir pu has to be crowing inside the kremlin, accomplished his goals of wreaking havoc on the american elections. he has an open the slate ahead with vladimir putin and the doesn't look like he's going to suffer consequences. the one person implicated in crimes in robert mueller's final report may come away as its biggest winner, russian president vladimir putin. former intelligence officials and analysts says report confirms what u.s. intelligence always knew. that russia attempted to influence the election. >> they've certainly sown discord. the russians have caused more than they could have hoped for in terms of domestic, political, upheaval in the united states. >> reporter: the attorney general's brief summary of the mueller report released sunday says the special counsel documents crimes committed by persons associated with the russian government in connection with efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. a campaign the russians deny. mueller reportedly says the russians used two tactics to sow chaos. hacking e-mails from democrats and from hillary clinton's
campaign, which were then released, and running a disinformation campaign on social media. mueller previously said that campaign not only tried to further divide americans with angry clickbait posts on race and guns but even organized protests like this one against hillary clinton in florida and these two for and against muslims in houston. mueller has charged russian officials with those crimes, but it's unlikely any of them will ever see the inside of a u.s. courtroom because putin won't extradite them to the u.s. another goal of putin's government in the interference campai campaign? >> they didn't want a clinton presidency. they certainly got that. >> reporter: instead, according to u.s. intelligence, putin pushed for candidate donald trump. >> he called me a genius. he said we're going to win. >> reporter: experts say that bet paid off. since being elected, trump has strengthened his ties to putin holding a one-on-one summit with putin in helsinki where he sided with the former kgb officer over u.s. intelligence. >> i will tell you that president putin was extremely
strong and powerful in his denial today. >> reporter: but analysts say everything may not have worked out the way putin wanted. they believe the trump administration feeling constrained by the russia probe has compensated by sanctioning russia, and more recently, keeping putin at arm's length. >> they couldn't have a summit just a few months ago. putin wanted that meeting. putin apparently chased after trump trying to talk to him at buenos airies and trump didn't want to talk to him. >> reporter: now that mueller turned in his report, analysts say trump may feel he has more freedom to pursue a closer relationship with the former kbg lieutenant colonel which experts warn is good for putin but dangerous for the u.s. >> russia is not a partner, it is not a friend, it's an adversary. this is not a country we need another reset with. this is not a country that shares any of our interests. in fact, u.s. interests are completely opposed to what the russians want to see in the world, which is a decline in u.s. power. >> reporter: and putin, analysts say, will certainly try to attack america's elections again in 2020.
>> assuming that they're not blocked from doing so technologically by cyber security or by new reforms to our electoral laws or other systemic changes, there's no particular reason that they wouldn't try again. >> reporter: what are the tools that vladimir putin and his operatives might use to cause political chaos in america in 2020? analysts warn of cyber attacks. more sophisticated disinformation campaigns. and efforts to undermine any candidate who might be more hawkish toward russia than donald trump is. wolf? >> brian todd reporting for us. thanks for that report. coming up, breaking news. a white house official says the trump team still hasn't seen the full mueller report, and as democrats remand the release, the report to be released in its entirety, president trump says that wouldn't bother him at all. . these days we all feel a little anxious sometimes. but if you could see inside my mind; you'll find i go to my happy place. see if we let tensions run the show up here, then our bodies won't perform at their best out here. wait, aren't we going to the sound check?
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happening now, breaking news. wouldn't bother me. president trump says he's okay with making the full mueller report public, as democrats urgently demand to see it all. did the attorney general's summary leave out details damaging to the president? outstanding questions. we're breaking down all the unsolved mysteries about the russia probe and what evidence may have been uncovered by the special counsel. tonight, new information on mueller's decision to punt on the issue of obstruction. vindicated to vindictive. as the president celebrates the end of mueller's investigation,
he's making misleading claims and lashing out at opponents. who is promising to -- who's he promising to investigate for so-called treasonous and evil acts? and extorting nike. lawyer and trump nemesis michael avenatti under arrest right now charged with federal crimes in two states. stand by for stunning details on how avenatti allegedly made threats and demanded millions. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight, a white house official tells cnn the trump team still hasn't seen robert mueller's full report, this as president trump claims it would not bother him at all if the special counsel's findings were made public as democrats are demanding. a day after the attorney general releas